One of the joys of cycling in Cycling City is the occasional attack by one of Bristol's taxi drivers. I don't know what it is that makes them so belligerent, perhaps it's being stuck behind a wheel all day, moving yet sedentary - very unnatural. I guess they think they can vent their frustration with impunity on lowly cyclists, which actually they normally can because, as I know from bitter experience, there's no way the police will ever take any action, even if there are independent witnesses.
Tonight's escapade involved taxi no. 258, reg. DG52EYA, driven by an overweight Asian gentleman (that last term used facetiously). I was cycling back, somewhat ironically, from a 20's plenty for Bristol (promoting lower speeds) meeting in town and was just turning off Queen's Road, Clifton into Lansdown Place (right background above) at about 10 pm, when I noticed a people carrier type taxi trying to overtake me on the inside of the bend, on the right hand side, even as I was turning at the narrow junction. I held my position and this prevented him from completing his manoeuvre.
That's when the deliberate harassment started. He repeatedly honked his horn at me and then drove along beside me, still on the right hand side of the road, telling me I should keep to my side of the road! I decided to try to get his number so edged closer to him until I eventually brought him to a stop, after much honking of his horn, so getting myself in front of him and writing down the taxi and registration numbers on the back of my hand. At this point he got out and tried to grab my bicycle and a little tussle ensued, with some rather unimaginative epithets thrown in by him - words I don't accept on this blog but if I said "you f...... c..." I think you can work it out.
I then let him go on his way, having secured the identifying information. But then remembered that I had my camera with me, so set off after him again, catching up with him at the end of Mortimer Road where it joins Clifton Down Road, where he was waiting to join the end of the taxi rank queue. I stopped behind him and took the picture above. My hands were shaking so I'm afraid it's a bit blurred. At this point he got out and starting shouting obscenities at me again, asking why I was taking a picture of his taxi and trying to push me over.
Being a cyclist of many years standing (or should that be sitting?) I'm quite used to handling this sort of aggression, especially from taxi drivers. The thing is not to escalate the physical side (unless you fancy your chances). A bit of pushing and shoving is no big deal once you've calmed down. So I eventually extricated myself and set off home, determined to tell the world about the kind of people who Bristol City Council consider to be fit and proper persons to hold taxi licenses.